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Depression was once a topic reserved for “other people.” It certainly was not something those in vocational ministry experienced. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that ministers rarely admitted that they were depressed. After all, weren’t these servants of God supposed to have their acts together? How could pastors and other ministers who have the call of God on their lives experience the dark valley of depression?

Ministers often feel shame and failure when they go through bouts of depression. And their reticence to tell anyone about their plights has exacerbated the problem.

But today more and more ministers are willing to talk about this issue. Recent articles in Christian Post, the New York Times, and Paul Tripp’s Gospel Coalition blog address the problem candidly and proactively.

A Growing Problem

The articles note that the problem of depression in the ministry is not only real, but that it is growing. Further, the rate of depression among ministers is now higher than the rate of the general population.

What are the causes of the depression? More importantly, what can be done to help ministers who are walking through this valley?

The Possible Causes

My list of possible causes is not exhaustive. It is based on the research of others as well as my own anecdotal conversations with pastors and other Christian leaders who experience depression.

· Spiritual warfare. The Enemy does not want God’s servants to be effective in ministry. He will do whatever it takes to hurt ministers and their ministries.

· Unrealistic expectations. The expectations and demands upon a pastor are enormous. They are unrealistic. But if one person’s expectations are not met, that person can quickly let the pastor know that he is a failure.

· Greater platforms for critics. In “the good old days,” a critic was typically limited to telephone, mail, and in-person meetings to criticize a minister. Today the critics have the visible and pervasive platforms of email, blogs, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

· Failure to take time away from the church or place of ministry. Workaholism leads to burnout. Burnout leads to depression.

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article courtesy of TheChristianPost.com

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